Many of the “food cravings”
you experience from time to time could actually
reveal something larger that your body needs. For
instance, begging for a burger? Then your body could
need iron, which helps boost energy and mood.
Here are some possible reasons nutritionists
give for your craving chocolate, potato chips, ice
cream, and some healthy ways to curb those cravings:
Chocolate. What you’re
really craving is relaxation. Chocolate’s
phenylethylamine can make you feel more relaxed,
and it’s loaded with magnesium, which helps
stabilize blood sugar levels and helps you feel
But there are other, healthier ways
to seek serenity. Take up yoga,
for instance to channel positive energy throughout
your body – and this feeling of serenity can
stay with you all day long.
Some people find that eating sweets
only for dessert never as snacks makes it easier
to limit them and decrease cravings. Sweets usually
don’t provide long-lasting fuel as snacks
anyway, nutritionists at the American Institute
for Cancer Research say.
One study found that after two weeks
of eating chocolate twice a day, 15 to 30 minutes
after a meal, people who craved chocolate felt their
desire for chocolate drop. But cravers and non-cravers
who ate chocolate between meals felt their desire
Regularly eating chocolate or other
sweets to satisfy hunger between meals may teach
us to crave it, institute nutritionists warn.
Potato chips. What
you really want is a thirst-quenching drink. People
crave salt when they’re dehydrated. Because
salt helps the body hold onto water, people subconsciously
seek out salt. Instead of the salty foods, drink
a tall glass of water.
Ice cream. There’s
a scientific reason you want it. Just feeling the
cold, smooth texture in your mouth triggers the
release of galanin, which helps you feel relaxed
and carefree. Instead, do something else that relaxes
you, such as playing a board game or taking the
kids to the park.
Cookies. A quick
energy jolt is really what you want. Sugary carb
cravings, like donuts or cookies, are a sure sign
that you need a little pick-me-up. Many of us subconsciously
look for this quick fix when we feel drained. Instead
of grabbing for the fat-laden Oreos, try closings
your eyes for a few minutes, letting your mind wander.
Or, take an energizing walk.
A craving's causes
Doctors and dietitians say cravings
stem from a combination of emotional,
hormonal and biochemical factors. An imbalance in
your blood sugar most often serves as the foundation
for most craving, coming after long period between
meals or on very low-calorie diets.
Most common emotional triggers for
women and men are boredom, depression, a general
need for comfort, and stress. For women, they suffer
the strongest food cravings in the week prior to
menstruation or during pregnancy, a fact that leads
nutritionists and dietitians to blame hormonal swings
on your sudden urge for a certian type of food or
a sackful of chocolate-chip cookies.
Severe cravings could lead to binge
eating and other eating disorders, nutritionists
Cravings: sign of weakness?
When you hear your tummy growling
or you get this "urge," the problem is
deciding whether you’re craving a food for
emotional or physiological reasons or whether your
body is truly hungry for food it needs.
However, many dieters think of food
cravings as a weakness, but 91 percent of participants
in a calorie-restriction study experienced food
cravings at the start. And even more had cravings
six months after dieting, nutritionists at Boston’s
Tufts University say.
In fact, accepting food cravings and
keeping them in check may be an important component
of weight management, explains Susan Roberts, an
energy metabolism expert at the university’s
Human Nutrition Research Center, who helped conduct
the calorie study.
People in her study who lost the most
weight succumbed to their cravings less frequently,
“Allowing yourself to have the
foods you crave, but doing so less frequently may
be one of the most important keys to successful
weight control,” Roberts adds. “Some
of the most commonly craved foods among study participants
were foods that have high sugar plus fat, such as
chocolate, and salty snacks, such as chips and French
“If individuals understand that
they can expect cravings and that those cravings
will be for calorie-dense foods, it might help in
their weight management. One thing to do is to substitute
foods that taste similar but have fewer calories,
since the craving can be satisfied by related tastes.”